When looking at the data regarding the heart health of people based around the Mediterranean diet, it’s essential that we consider all factors.
Researchers and scientists refer to this as ‘confounding variables’. In other words, we need to think of everything that might cause the result we’re seeing before we can pinpoint any one explanation.
In this case, we need to consider the lifestyles of people in various countries and how this might affect their heart health and lifespan. Is the Mediterranean diet good for you?
Research shows that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest. It helps prevent type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, and even reduces the risk of some cancers. Also, it has shown that it can be very effective for weight loss and has many other benefits.
How Healthy is the Mediterranean Diet?
Something important to note is that our heart health is at least partly affected by our psychology as well.
When you are stressed, your body releases several hormones and neurotransmitters that put us in the ‘fight or flight’ state. This elevates the heart rate and directs more blood to our muscles and our brain so that we can escape or fight.
At the same time, though, that means the heart is working extra hard to transport all that blood. What’s more, is that the body also changes in several other ways in response to this.
For instance, the blood will thicken to clot more readily in case of an injury (thereby helping us to avoid bleeding out). This, of course, increases the viscosity and makes it harder for the heart to provide blood circulation.
And because blood and oxygen are going to the brain and muscles, this means that there’s less going to the digestive system and the immune system.
The stress response evolved naturally so that we could deal with immediate threats. But today our most significant causes of stress are ongoing and ever-present. This means that we’re left in those states for much longer, and we’re much more likely to become ill as a result.
The Mediterranean Lifestyle helps to counteract this – especially when combined with the right diet.
First of all, the Mediterranean lifestyle involves fewer working hours and more time to relax. Historically, many of these countries have enjoyed siestas and often take a more laid-back approach to their work.
Take a walk through Spain, Greece, or Lisbon, and it’s not uncommon to find people relaxing outside their shops or houses, chatting, and maybe sharing a glass of wine – at any time of day!
Then they come home and enjoy a big, freshly-cooked meal with their family. They chat and spend real time eating real food – and during this, they get to unwind and let a load off.
In the USA, people are so rushed, they can’t afford to add one more thing to their daily list of activities. It is really a shame. They go through life feeling as if it is all-important, and it’s not.
What is important is your health and the quality time spent with family. Dinner meals usually provide this, and most of America will eat a dinner meal on the run instead of sitting down to a nutritious meal and discussing the day’s events.
Beginning the Mediterranean Diet is your first step to living a lifestyle that’s a little closer to this ideal.
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